Thursday, 19 May 2022

Floraart Opens At Bundek Lake

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - The 56th edition of the Floraart flower show was formally opened by Mayor Tomislav Tomašević at Zagreb's Bundek Lake on Thursday.

This year, there are 160 exhibitors with over 100,000 plants.

Mayor Tomašević particularly thanked guests from the Republic of Korea and Korean Ambassador Sung-Wook Hong, for attending the opening ceremony.

Also in attendance was Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković,  who hailed cooperation with Korea.

The minister said that local flower growers, particularly young entrepreneurs in this sector, had been supported under various schemes totalling HRK 15 million (€2 million).

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Farm Minister Promises Aid to Beekeepers After Mass Death of Bees

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - The government will provide financial assistance to beekeepers in Međimurje after the mass death of bees, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Thursday after a government session.

She recalled that the government had helped local beekeepers after the scourge of bees in 2020 when about 40 honey farmers were given 1,300 bee colonies and the aid was worth HRK 1 million.

Vučković said that now the authorities were waiting for the findings of a veterinary inspection to establish whether the mass death was caused by a contagious disease or if the bees were killed by the effects of the use of protective chemical agents. Recently, an estimated 17.5 million bees in about 350 beehives in Međimurje have been found poisoned.

Local apiarists say that the wrong application of protective agents in fruit growing as well as in rapeseed cultivation has led to the mass poisoning of bees.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Agriculture Ministry Awards 33 Rural Development Programme Contracts

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday awarded 33 contracts worth over HRK 65 million from the Rural Development Programme.

Minister Marija Vučković said the aid focused on those transforming agriculture by increasing productivity and capacity as well as using new technologies.

We are also focused on improving living conditions in small local communities, she added.

Higher food prices

Asked by the press about higher food prices, Vučković said inflation started being higher than expected last year already and that the government responded promptly, notably in cattle breeding, which she said was the first sector to feel the inflation in terms of fodder price hikes.

"Inflation has continued this year and we can no longer say that it is transitory", she said, adding that inflation has picked up also due to the war in Ukraine.

Inflation "is first and foremost driven by energy prices", but it manifests considerably in food prices as well, the minister said.

She recalled that the government adopted a set of measures worth HRK 4.8 billion to mitigate energy price hikes and said that, if necessary, it would adopt additional measures to ease the blow to purchasing power and to reduce the risk of any kind of poverty.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Croatian Agriculture Minister and Albanian Ambassador Meet to Discuss Trade

ZAGREB, 30 March 2022 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković met with Albanian Ambassador Riza Poda on Wednesday to discuss common trade issues and ways of expanding bilateral cooperation in agriculture, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

It was agreed that Vučković would soon visit Albania as part of efforts by both countries to expand bilateral cooperation in agriculture, and further strengthen trade.

The two countries have excellent relations and work together to achieve their common interests through mutual political and technical support.

The Croatian Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development and the Albanian Agency for Rural Development have already signed a cooperation agreement, and next week the Croatian Agency is organising a workshop on improving the quality of internal audits for a delegation from the Albanian Agency.

In 2020, the two countries' agriculture ministries agreed veterinary conditions for exports of egg products and designed a veterinary certificate, given the considerable potential of the Albanian market for exports of animal products from Croatia.

Croatia has a surplus in trade in agricultural and food products with Albania and a high coverage of imports by exports of as much as 974%, the ministry said.

Albania is a considerable export market for small pelagic fish from Croatia, notably anchovy.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Croatia Will Have Enough Food, Agriculture Minister Says

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Wednesday the government would do all that was necessary to contribute to citizens' food security and that Croatia would have enough food, despite disrupted international commodity trends due to the war in Ukraine.

Responding to questions from the press after a cabinet session, she said the government was considering various models to ensure the necessary supplies.

"Croatia will also do everything that is necessary to enable farmers and fishermen to work", she said, adding that today the government adopted decisions to aid farmers and fishermen and to procure HRK 594.6 million worth of strategic commodities.

Asked what those commodities were, she said it was necessary to procure corn, wheat, pork and turkey meat, oil and milk.

Farmers did a good autumn sowing despite the difficulties they ae exposed to, she said, adding that preparations for the spring sowing are going well and that preparations are being made for the autumn sowing. "That's a guarantee that Croatia will have enough food."

However, it is necessary to take this seriously given that Ukraine and Russia export more than 25% of the world's wheat, almost 20% of corn and 50% of sunflower oil, the minister said.

Reporters asked her how much of that Croatia produced, how much it would need, and guarantees that what was produced would not be bought by others.

Vučković said last year's wheat balance was 930,000 tonnes, where more than 500,000 tonnes was exported and 210,000 spent.

"We need 150,000 tonnes until the next sowing, a smaller part is available on the market, but commodity stockpiles are being ensured", she said, adding that trade has been affected by supply disruptions.

Croatia is very active internationally, proposing many measures to the European Commission, she said, confident that some of them will be adopted.

At the closing of today's session, the government adopted a decision to replenish strategic wheat, corn and rye supplies.

For more on Croatia's food security, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Farmers Say There is Enough Wheat

ZAGREB, 2 March 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković and farmers, who held talks on the  stocks of cereals, concluded that there were sufficient amounts of wheat and that there was no need for concern in light of the Ukraine crisis, the ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.

Farmers reported that there are sufficient stocks and there is no need to worry about any possible shortage of wheat.

Noting that Ukraine is the fifth largest wheat exporter and the biggest exporter of seed oils, participants at the meeting agreed that due to the crisis in Ukraine the sowing season will be particularly challenging and the survival of other agricultural products is an important factor for farmers.

The meeting also discussed the impact of the increased price of gas and mineral fertilisers on the sowing season and also the autumn sowing season.

Representatives of the meat industry commended the ministry's measures so far but expressed their fear over current challenges facing the livestock breeding sector.

Vučković underscored that she shared their concern over market disruptions, assessing the further interest in the investment cycle as positive, which began with a call for applications to invest in repro centres and continued with investments in fattening facilities.

She added that during 2021 Croatia managed to notify a large number of measures before the European Commission, and will continue to do so with the objective of finding a solution to these specific circumstances.

The ministry recalled that it is preparing a programme for agriculture and fisheries, valued at HRK 250 million, and recalled the government's package of measures to buffer increased energy prices, including the lowering of VAT on food and agricultural inputs to the 5-percent rate.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Croatian and Kosovo Agriculture Ministers Meet in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 9 Feb 2022 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković met with Kosovo's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, Faton Peci, in Zagreb on Wednesday to discuss ways of intensifying cooperation in agriculture.

The meeting took place as part of a three-day visit by a Kosovo delegation, and the ministers agreed to update the 2008 memorandum of understanding in the coming period.

Kosovo is actively preparing to obtain the status of an official candidate for European Union membership and would appreciate a further exchange of knowledge and experience with Croatian experts in agriculture and forestry, the Croatian ministry said in a statement, adding that there is a possibility for joint projects through the TAIEX technical assistance programme or through twinning programmes.

Peci invited Vučković for an official visit to Kosovo.

Kosovo is interested in Croatian companies investing in its agricultural and food sector, and in this context, the possibility of organising a meeting between business people during the Croatian minister's visit to Kosovo was mentioned.

Peci also showed an interest in Croatian expertise in the use of biomass and the construction of power plants, as well as in heating and electric power production.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Vučković Presents New Contracts in Sisak Under Rural Development Programme

ZAGREB, 31 January 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković presented farmers in Sisak-Moslavina County on Monday with four new contracts for aid from the Rural Development Programme for local projects.

Vučković said that projects worth HRK 1.18 billion had been agreed so far for this county and that most of this amount had been paid out. She said that this had helped farmers maintain and develop their production during the times of the coronavirus pandemic and earthquakes.

An additional HRK 1.2 billion in aid has been paid out from other programmes since 2014, which makes it a total of HRK 2.4 billion, the minister stressed.

Vučković said that new measures for Sisak-Moslavina County were also in the pipeline, including a further HRK6.5 million "to encourage new demographic trends", and additional aid to help farmers cope with increased costs due to the rise in energy and mineral fertilizer prices.

Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivan Celjak said he was confident the ministry would continue to be a partner to the farmers in repairing the earthquake damage, increasing production and marketing their products.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

HRK 77m Earmarked From National Recovery Plan for Digitising Agriculture Sector

ZAGREB, 8 Dec, 2021 - The survival of Croatia's agriculture largely depends on digitisation, the key to increase productivity and the driver of the development of domestic production, for which HRK 77 million is envisaged for investments, a conference on digital farming heard on Wednesday.

Addressing the conference, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that digital technology has the potential to significantly improve farming and that the digital transformation of Croatia's agriculture has been included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO). 

A total of HRK 77 million is earmarked in the NPOO for the digitisation of the agriculture sector - for digitising public services (HRK 14 million), for smart agriculture (HRK 50 million), and for launching the field-to-table project (HRK 13 million).

Vučković pointed out the ageing structure of family farms and that it is necessary to motivate young people to take over family farms. Digitisation can also compensate for the labour shortage in certain areas, she said.

"We will have the funds, and living in rural communities, with the help of investments in the local and entrepreneurial infrastructure, will be such that there will not be any gap between the quality of life in rural or urban communities," underscored Vučković.

The state-secretary in the ministry, Zdravko Tušek, said that digitisation will contribute to producing high-quality food at competitive prices, among other things.

Efficient agriculture and its competitiveness depend on digital solutions

The transformation and survival of rural communities depend on digital solutions, which already provide support and better efficiency, Danijel Koletić of the conference's organising committee said.

Smart villages are a new concept and it is necessary to educate and inform stakeholders so Croatia's agriculture can be more competitive in the future, he added.

Unfortunately, in Croatia there is not one university that offers a course in digital agriculture, he said.

It is necessary to educate all stakeholders in rural communities to start learning about digital farming because without that Croatia's agriculture cannot be competitive, Koletić added.

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Saturday, 16 October 2021

Strategy Envisages €7.5 Billion of Investments in Agriculture in Next 10 Years

ZAGREB, 16 Oct, 2021 - Agriculture and the energy industry are the two main sectors enabling each society and state to function normally, and therefore in the next decade, €7.5 billion will be invested in the agricultural sector, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Zagreb on Saturday.

Addressing an Agriculture Ministry event dedicated to promoting farming, fisheries and forestry, the Prime Minister said that his cabinet spared no effort to help agricultural producers, the food and timber industries and the fisheries.

The government has sent to the parliament a draft strategy on agriculture, and the document, which should be adopted this year, envisages investments in agriculture of some €7.5 billion in the next decade, which should help the Croatian agricultural sector to reach the target of HRK 30 billion (€4 billion) of annual production.

During the term of this government, over a score of state aid schemes have been designed and mostly implemented, and their value is estimated at €253 million, provided from the state budget, Plenković said, recalling prompt interventions to address market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis and natural disasters.

In the livestock sector, nine measures and schemes are being implemented in response to problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis, and HRK 450 million has been made available as part of the government's aid schemes, he said, adding that an HRK 163.5 million scheme is in the pipeline to help businesses affected by fodder price rises.

From 2016 to 2019, state grants amounted to HRK 11.1 billion, and in 2020, HRK 3.2 billion was disbursed as state aid, the PM said.

The Rural Development Programme has made HRK 22.8 billion available to beneficiaries, and of that amount 18 billion has been contracted, and 13.8 billion has been disbursed for investments in agriculture, the PM told the event.

The fisheries branch has been provided with HRK 2.3 billion in grants within the Operational Programme for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and to date more than 1.2 billion has been disbursed.

Plenković went on to say that the government has increased outlays for investments in food safety and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisages the provision of infrastructure for a food bank and for participants in the food donation chain. This is one of the important reforms, worth HRK 32 million, he said.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that the aim of the strategy would be to increase the output in the agricultural sector to HRK 30 billion annually until 2030.

The implementation of the strategy will require €7.5 billion, and the government plans allocations for this purpose in the amount of five billion euros until 2027 through the multiannual financial framework, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the state budget, she explained.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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